Yesterday I came across a Revered Dragon in Winterhold. This thing was hard and would consistently use its drain vitality shout on me which was, for it, very effective. I died multiple times.

My character is level 63 and uses melee weapons - mostly a one-handed ebony war axe and shield / skirmisher build. Her weapons and armour are all smithed to legendary quality.

This dragon landed just outside Winterhold. Normally when I swing an axe at a dragon it's dead in a few hits, but its health hardly went down. It was like chipping away at a rockface.

I have the Aetherial Crown which 'contains' the Atronach Stone, but apparently magic absorption doesn't do anything to drain vitality. I also have the Necklace of the Firewalker which gives me 70% protection against fire, but that's not that helpful when the dragon keeps switching its attacks.

How does anyone battle these things effectively?

  • Do you have a companion that could assist, perhaps one with a bow or who casts spells? Generally a melee character in any game, genre, etc., however powerful, will be outmatched by an enemy that can fly and also cast ranged magic attacks. The same is certainly true for TES games.
    – TylerH
    Oct 15, 2020 at 14:17
  • @TylerH hmm well, my character is married to Aela the Huntress. I tend to leave her at home. Maybe I should take her out more. I could give her an enchanted Daedric bow or Auriel's bow. I mean, the latter has been sat in a chest for weeks. Or I could stop being so lazy and level up my archery.
    – C26
    Oct 15, 2020 at 14:29
  • Ah there is a bug that means she won't use the bows I give her. Oh well. gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/56533/…
    – C26
    Oct 15, 2020 at 14:37
  • @C26 She will still use the bow she has, which will be enough to deal damage and, more importantly, take some of the dragon's attention off of you for a bit. Remember that companions are essential and so only die if hit with a critical strike that would reduce their health to zero, so your Aela will be extra useful.
    – TylerH
    Oct 15, 2020 at 14:43

2 Answers 2


My character is level 63 and uses melee weapons - mostly a one-handed ebony war axe.

  • Level a ranged ability, preferably archery. When the dragon lands somewhere out of melee range, or is hovering, you ought to have a strategy for hitting it other than "cast Dragonrend and then run over to it." That's too slow.
    • Destruction can work as well, but it is poorly leveled in vanilla Skyrim. If the expert-level spells aren't strong enough, you may be out of luck.
  • Upgrade to dragonbone weapons.
  • Upgrade to dual wielding, and get the perks that make it faster. This greatly increases DPS, and blocking is less useful at higher levels in my experience.
  • If your equipment is not tempered to Legendary already, go level Smithing:
    • Complete Unfathomable Depths, get a good night's sleep, activate the Warrior Stone, and then...
    • Go to Halted Stream Camp outside Whiterun, collect a bunch of iron and the guaranteed Transmute spell tome, then smith a bunch of silver and gold jewelry. You can then enchant and sell it to level enchanting and speech respectively, and you'll also make a decent amount of cash from this process. If you sell to the teachers at the College of Winterhold, you can immediately purchase training services from them, and the money will go back into their inventory. Then you can sell them more stuff.
    • Go through (your favorite Dwemer ruin), collect all the smeltable items of weight 2 (the heavier ones aren't worth it unless you have lots of extra room in your inventory), chop some firewood, then make a ton of Dwarven arrows (which are weightless).
  • Enchant your weapons. Don't bother with paralysis, it doesn't work on dragons, but there are quite a few enchantments that give a significant increase over base damage.
  • Potions and poisons can greatly increase your damage output. Lingering damage poisons can negate healing effects and do a lot of damage overall (assuming you're dealing with a battle that will take a long time anyway).
  • Have a follower distract the dragon once it's grounded, and attack it from a distance. Make sure they have good gear and a reasonable maximum level. Many followers cap out at 30 or so, and those followers are useless for high-level fights.

I have the aetherium crown which 'contains' the atronach stone, but apparently magic absorption doesn't do anything to drain vitality.

  • Be at the armor cap (displayed value of 542 with a shield, 567 without a shield, but you must fill all four armor slots). You can do this with smithing alone, but the Lord Stone makes it significantly easier. This only protects against physical damage (e.g. the dragon's bite), but at a high Smithing level, it's so easy to reach that you may as well do it anyway.
  • A couple of tricks which don't work on Drain Vitality, but do work on most other dragon breath attacks:
    • Have 85% magic resistance (25% from the Lord Stone, 15% from The Book of Love, and enchant some of your gear for the other 45%).
    • Have 80% spell absorption (50% from the Atronach Stone, 30% from the Alteration perk).
    • Have 85% resist for each of fire, frost, and shock. This stacks with magic resistance. I recommend using potions for this, as you may be running short on enchantment slots and elemental resistance is more situational.
  • Potions of regenerate health will effectively cancel the most deleterious effect of Drain Vitality. The Argonian racial skill Histskin will completely negate it and then some, but only for 60 seconds per day, so it's probably not a good strategy.
  • Don't bother with potions of fortify light/heavy armor, you're already at the armor cap.
  • Level Restoration and learn (better) healing spells (purchase from Colette Marence). Use them.

And finally, the extreme option:

  • Become a Vampire Lord via Dawnguard. The VL form is ridiculously overpowered, but makes most people turn hostile on sight.
  • 2
    Pretty comprehensive. This should work for most enemies. Oct 16, 2020 at 5:24
  • It's hard to see how this answer can be improved upon. There's a lot of interesting advice there. More importantly - and unexpectedly - there are some good proposals on how to upgrade skills which I wasn't using and how to push my character's overall level further, since she's been stuck on 63 for a few days now. Great post, and one which goes beyond the question asked. Thank you very much.
    – C26
    Oct 16, 2020 at 9:06
  • I should add that these are skills which can be upgraded whilst remaining in character build. Very useful.
    – C26
    Oct 16, 2020 at 13:02
  • Also: Spellbreaker. I used it the second time with the Revered Dragon when it was at ground level for melee and it worked like an absolute charm [maybe it is a charm]. You just have to be careful that the dragon doesn't ensnare you in its jaws.
    – C26
    Oct 25, 2020 at 11:00

My way of dealing with things is simple:

Stack up on Magicka potions and dual-cast with the Impact perk of the Destruction school of magic: you will be able to stagger-lock the enemy.

  • Might this also work with dual-wielding melee and stocking up on stamina potions?
    – C26
    Oct 15, 2020 at 13:00
  • Is there a perk that does that ?
    – Fana
    Oct 15, 2020 at 13:50
  • Hmm apparently not. War axes have the best stagger-speed ratio. I wonder if it's possible, if they're both smithed to legendary and one-handed is high enough, to have a similar effect.
    – C26
    Oct 15, 2020 at 14:01

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